Roll Call!

Dora is an attentive mother and seems happier now that the whelping has started….. Here’s the whole story moment by moment, written as it happens:

It’s been a long 10 days for Dora and me. Her temperature dropped sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Nov 20, 2011, so I knew that we would see the whelping commence within 24 hours.

About 1:00 am, Dora woke me with a few soft barks to go outside. My bedroom is next to her room. So we went–never argue with a pregnant dog! Then after much scratching around and rearranging of the newspapers…..Having thought I would have more time to do this before the puppies arrived, I start this blog at about 3 am.

2:30 am – the first arrives. Healthy strong female weighing 10 ounces. I have been raising Airedales for over 30 years and I have the old-school tradition of making the firstborn girl PINK. The ribbon serves as a name and identification on puppies that all look identical with some sort of durable, adjustable/replaceable identification. Curling ribbon comes in many colors and I frequently replace it to allow for growth.

2:55 am – the second, also a female arrives and she is slightly heavier, 12 ounces. She becomes PURPLE. I use a high quality electric scale that helps me to track the future weight gains in the critical first 10 days of life. For these puppies, growth = life, and we want to provide the optimal conditions!

The first four....adding KELLY GREEN and the first boy, BLUE

4:05 am – the third, a strong active female, 12.5 ounces, the largest at this point. Geesh! Is this some kind of trend? Three straight girls and I do have a couple of reservations for the other kind, you know–boys! Wait a minute… soon?

4:15 am – the fourth, a BOY makes his debut. I swear the boys have a more muscular neck and slightly heavier looking head at birth. He is solid, weighing in at 11.5 ounce. Naturally, he becomes BLUE. My hand in the photo is palpating the presence of more than one more puppy by the feel of it.

Dora is taking a break, curling around the little ones. She has a privacy barrier so that my other Airedales cannot intrude on the new mother and babies. BELIEVE ME, she would’t like it! Her hormones are running high now to protect  and defend. She is fine with me changing her newspapers messy with birth fluids, weighing puppies, and offering her water. But I move quietly and speak softly to avoid any stress for her. Both our moods are “attentive.”

We have provided a high sided sturdy wood box, all bleached and cleaned days ago. The high sides prevent drafts on the babies and we use a heat lamp the first few days now that we are in November. Puppies do best with temps in the 80’s where they sleep.

Five and palpating Dora's flank (there's more!)

Did you know that newborn canines are very underdeveloped? Their brains have a smoother surface than the adult (we are told by the research veterinarians) and develop all the odd squiggles and shapes of a normal brain by the time they are 49 days old.Their eyes and ears are sealed shut and won’t open until about 12+ days old. They cannot shiver if cold or pant if too hot, so we need to keep a close watch on the environment.

4:50 am – next up (or should I say out) is the fifth, a female weighing in at 10.5 ounces. Her ribbon is YELLOW but I know I will be calling her Sunshine for the first few weeks of her life. She breathed her first breaths of air and immediately started looking for the milk. That’s a great sign. All are nursing.

6:oo am – Good morning! Ours sixth puppy is….wait for it….another girl! ORANGE; why orange? Because it was quick to grab from the ribbon box and an orange could weigh 11 ounces, couldn’t it?

Here’s a genetics question that I answered at Ohio State when I was taking the intro class. If there are 6 born in a litter so far and there are 5 females and 1 male, what are the chances of the next one born to be a male?

6:40 am – The sex of the seventh puppy is……..female! Weren’t the chances greater for a male to be born? No, not really. Each and every unknown puppy has a 50-50 chance of being born either sex.  It was a trick question. I almost fell for it during an exam many years ago! Her color is SKY BLUE and she weighs in at 9 ounces.

7:00 am – Dora is entering the home stretch and has the eighth puppy, a boy, and he’s RED–that’s ribbon color not puppy color. He isn’t any redder than the others. Weight: 7.5 ounces.

The Full (?) Crew of Eight, from left to right: Sky Blue, Red, Pink, Orange, Kelly Green, Yellow, Blue, Purple

It’s dawn outside and a cold rain falls. I cannot feel another puppy when I palpate but she is laying down and doesn’t want to stand yet. This is normal when puppies are being born–a survival characteristic. Their whole world IS their mother at this neonatal stage. Dora’s hormones are keeping her so close to her puppies that I will almost have to carry her out to go to the bathroom, which reminds me, she hasn’t gone out since 1:00 am and a LOT has happened since then!

7:30 am – Dora has been outside and taken care of business. She hustled back to her puppies after only two minutes outside and is now safely tucked in with her eight puppies. I thought I might have palpated one more puppy. It’s hard to tell now though she is having a few small contractions. That doesn’t necessarily mean a puppy as Dora will be ejecting any remaining tissue from carrying eight puppies. We watch and wait…..

8:30 am – Our business is open, Easdale: the best pet care. I’m lucky I can work from my home so I stay close. I’m luckier still to have Amanda to help me today. She just clocked in and is taking care of the boarding dogs plus a three morning baths for grooming and boarding client departures. Our website for that is and the facebook page:

Right now, I’m trying to get the photos into the blog while running back to see if there is any change for Dora and the crew of eight. Now I’m posting this, heading back to groom a tiny three pound poodle. Yes, I check on the puppies and Dora frequently. I should buy a pedometer and see how many steps I take today!


One thought on “Roll Call!

  1. Oh my another litter on November 20 th! Seems like yesterday our Bailey and the Baker’s Dozen were born but we just celebrated her 4th birthday yesterday. They are beautiful Nancy.

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